Water security is arguably one of the top global water issues. A definition of water security is that it is the sustainable availability of water of adequate quantity and quality for a particular use, whether for humans or the environment. It is becoming increasingly important for food security, conflict mitigation, environmental conservation, and economic development. According to Grey and Sadoff (2007), the issue of water security has been the object of increased academic and policy interest over the past decade, although the international water community has used the term “water security” much earlier. In 2000 the concept of water security was introduced in two prominent declarations, namely (1) “A Water Secure World — Vision for Water, Life, and the Environment” introduced by the World Water Council (WWC 2000) and (2) “Towards Water Security: A Framework for Action” published by the Global Water Partnership (GWP 2000). In 2009, the World Economic Forum (WEF) prioritized water security as a global concern, stating that “water security is the gossamer that links together the web of food, energy, climate, economic growth, and human security challenges that the world economy faces over the next decades” (WEF 2011). In 2013, the UN-Water Task Force on Water Security proposed a working definition of water security, aiming to capture the dynamic and constantly evolving dimensions of water and water related issues, offering a holistic outlook for addressing water challenges through the umbrella of water security, and serving as a starting point for dialogue on water security in the UN system (UNU 2013). In 2015 the WEF further reported that “Global water crises — from drought in the world’s most productive farmlands to the hundreds of millions of people without access to safe drinking water — are the biggest threats facing the planet over the next decade. Other global risks are inextricably tied to water management, inadequate and heterogeneous access, increased risks of extreme weather events, failure of national governance, state collapse or crisis; rapid and massive epidemics; and failure to adapt to climate change.”
Regardless of the definition adopted, water security involves the sustainable development and use of water resources, protection of water systems, protection against water-related hazards (floods and droughts), and the safeguarding of access to water functions and services for humans and the environment. Water security is a precondition for any effective poverty reduction strategy, and for effective environmental sanitation, wastewater management, and flood control (Laušević et al. 2016).
This featured collection includes invited papers from the International Specialty Conference on Water Security: New Technologies, Strategies, Policies, and Institutions convened by the American Water Resources Association and Center for Water Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CWRR-CAS) held on September 16–18, 2019 in Beijing, China. The conference was attended by 180 people, of which approximately three-quarters were from China and the rest from 15 other countries (Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore, Tajikistan, UK, USA, Uzbekistan). Participants represented 57 research institutes and organizations. The conference was held at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China.
Based on recommendations of session moderators, we invited authors of selected presentations to submit their full papers or related paper on the same topic for consideration of publication in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association as featured collection series. The guest associate editors (see list below) recruited three expert peer reviewers to evaluate each submission and all papers were evaluated following the publication standards of the journal. We are in debt to all the associate editors and reviewers for their honest and thorough assessment of submitted manuscripts in a timely manner despite the interruptions created due to COVID-19 pandemic. Special thanks go to the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Venki Uddameri, and Managing Editors, Ms. Corrie Williams and Ms. Kylie Bade.